Why bi-amp your speakers?

You may be sitting on a wealth of untapped power


Dave Bar

Dave Bar has worked for Crutchfield since 1981. After a brief 23 year stint in the sales department, he now writes about home audio gear and camera equipment for Crutchfield's catalog and website. Dave has been hooked on electronics ever since putting together a 5-tube AM radio in his high school shop class, and still enjoys tinkering with stereos in his spare time. His interests include gardening, cooking, fishing, photography, and music.

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If you've purchased a seven-channel home theater receiver in the last couple of years, you might be surprised to learn that you possibly have lots of amplifier power just going to waste. Here's why.

Like many of us, when you set up your home theater system you may not have bothered to hook up any rear surround speakers. Those are the ones designed to go all the way in the back of your room behind your regular surround speakers. That means you may still have two out of the seven channels of power available in your receiver with nothing to do (assuming, of course, you haven't put them to work running speakers in another room).

Many newer seven-channel surround sound receivers actually let you redirect the power from those unused rear surround channels to use in combination with the power from your front two channels. In effect, this gives you four dedicated amplifier channels to drive a single pair of compatible left and right front speakers (each of which must have two pairs of input terminals for this to work). This neat trick essentially doubles the available power, resulting in more dynamic, higher-quality sound from your now bi-amped front speakers.

Biamp speaker terminals

If your speakers have two sets of terminals, then with the right kind of receiver you can probably improve your system's sound by bi-amping.

If your system meets these requirements, you're all set. Basically, you only need to do three things:

  1. Access your receiver's menu to re-assign the rear surround amplifier channels.
  2. Remove the jumpers that connect the two pairs of input terminals on your speakers.
  3. Connect the extra set of wires to the appropriate jacks on the back of your receiver and speakers (most experts recommend using identical pairs of wire for this).

Please be sure to refer to your receiver's manual for specific directions because the details can vary from brand to brand, and model to model.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Bi-amping really works, and the improvements you get in performance should be well worth the cost of an additional pair of speaker wires. Happy listening.

  • Randy from Wisconsin

    Posted on 7/12/2015 11:37:15 AM

    If I understand you, you're saying to use the 2 extra channels from the normal 5.1 system. My Denon receiver lists uses for front upper surround or rear upper. Would it better to bi-amp or do the upper front? We use the system mostly for movies. The front speakers are Klipsch rb2.

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/13/2015 11:38:26 AM

    Randy, for overall sound quality I usually prefer bi-amping, but if you're doing more movie watching than music listening, you might get more mileage with some upper front surround speakers.